Unsafe Passage

julene.jpgHe was right on my bumper, riding me like he had an emergency appendectomy waiting for him at journey’s end. When he finally whipped the wheel to the left, punched the gas and zoomed past me, he flashed a certain appendage. I’d had the nerve to not just be in his way, but to not drive 20 miles over the speed limit, and he had by golly shown me once and for all that none of this was even a little bit acceptable. I shook my head and shook it off, but the peanut gallery in the back seat was scandalized.

“Did you see what that man did?” my daughter asked, voice rising. “He looked right at us when he did it!”

“I guess I just wasn’t driving fast enough for him,” I replied.

“Or maybe he doesn’t like Green Day,” she conjectured. “You do have that bumper sticker.”

“Hmm. Maybe. Or maybe he’s against peace. I have that bumper sticker too.”

“Oh, come on, Mom. Who could be against peace?”

She had me there.

It was just one incident, but it stuck with me all day, maybe because he’d come out of nowhere, popping up in my rear-view mirror so suddenly that I wanted to tap the brake just to urge him to back off. But I knew better. These sorts of chronic tailgaters are easily enraged, and as peeved as I might be, there was no point in infuriating him, especially not with precious cargo in the car. It was too risky even to contemplate.

I suspect that most of us don’t give much thought to the perils ahead when we roll out of bed to face the day. Unless we’re firefighters or in the military or police force, we tend to assume that all will be well, and that at day’s end, we’ll be back in our nice, safe beds. And that’s a good thing. If we thought about the risky business of getting through the day — really thought about the dangers of driving down the freeway, of running into trouble in a sketchy neighborhood, of tripping in the bathtub and breaking a hip — we’d be too paralyzed with fear to get anything done. So, sensibly enough, most of us don’t think about it. We blithely hop in our cars and go over the speed limit. We eat deep-fried food and don’t give more than a passing hoot about our cholesterol. We take a deep breath, dive into the dating pool and hope that we’ll emerge in love.

And if there are hazards ahead, we’ll forge on and keep the faith. As you flip through the pages of this issue — which was built around the concept of risky business — you’ll read about people who’ve taken a chance. Whether they’ve written a book, started a business, won a championship or taken on a monumental new venture, risk was part of the equation. It’s the way great things happen. Nonetheless, when you’ve got your pedal to the metal, would you mind making sure that your bumper isn’t riding up the tailpipe of the pokey car ahead of you? We’re going as fast as we can.